Photo: Dave Heumann

Suzannah explores emotional resilience through the dreamy alt-country twang of “Skeletons” [BPM Premiere]

Baltimore-based singer-songwriter Suzannah creates music in the form of personal narratives which speak to our ongoing relationship with our memories, using them as conduits to alter our perspective and gain a deeper understanding of how our experiences shape us as individuals. Deftly maneuvering between old school twang and something approximating Cocteau Twins covering Patsy Cline, her sound is a gauzy melding of influences which speaks to the range of musical histories contained within.

She is set to release her debut album, Is There Any Love In Your Heart, on November 11, and it finds her digging into themes of redemption, forgiveness, and mercy — all things that can seem so difficult as outside forces feel like they are constantly trying to pin you down, to loosen your hold on your own self-worth. How do we reassess ourselves and our relationship to the world after experiencing trauma of all kinds? Do we give in to despair and frustration, or do we attempt to pull ourselves out of those shadows and find new purpose in the wake of so much emotional devastation? These are the questions she seeks to examine within the boundaries of the new record.

With new single, “Skeletons”, she crafts a dreamy twang through which she explores ways to hang on despite hardship, to find a reason to push forward an persevere — and ultimately, to discover the strength to take on the world. Her voice is as light as morning dew and as resilient as red clay. The guitars slide and shuffle about, recalling the work of bands like Uncle Tupelo and early Steve Earle, but Suzannah fully inhabits this gauzy alt-country aesthetic, letting it grow and bloom until it makes you forget about dull genre comparisons and forces you to reconsider it on its own terms.

Directed by Sandra Camargo and lensed by Chancey June, the accompanying video examines aspects of the hurt, shame, and manipulation that comes from toxic relationships. Detailing the beginning and end of one such romance, the clip follows a woman as she slowly begins to understand and address the volatile situation in which she finds herself. It provides the perfect visual compliment to an already mesmerizing track.

Watch the video below.

We had a moment to talk with Suzannah about her new single and its accompanying video. Check out our brief conversation below.

Let’s talk about “Skeletons” for a moment. The old school country twang of this track feels salvational in an odd way. I’m hearing some Emmylou, some Patsy Cline too… Who were some of your biggest sonic influences on this track in particular?

Suzannah: I’m at a point where I’m never actively thinking about another musician when I write or record, but if I think back to the night I wrote this song, I had been listening to a lot of Buddy Guy at the time and watching videos of Axl Rose on his piano and Young MA’s Hot Sauce video which had just come out, so who knows if some of that seeped in. But Patsy Cline and Emmylou were major influences in my formative years for sure. My grandmother used to say “Nobody sang like Patsy Cline” and to this day she’s the only artist I won’t cover. You couldn’t match her if you tried. So it’s kind of a neat trick… because I have a certain kind of feminine voice, and maybe some influences the listener isn’t expecting, maybe what comes out is like “Huh, this sounds familiar but I can’t quite place my finger on it.”

Could you tell us a bit about the story behind the song?

I love poker and had just read Doyle Brunson’s book Super System. In it he tells a story about how when he was just starting out, still playing the roadhouse games up and down Texas and Oklahoma, he was at a game and lost all the money he’d won so far – a couple hundred thousand. He realized the only way out was to stay in the game and somehow win his money back. So he stayed up at the table for five days and five nights straight. People brought him food and he only left to go to the bathroom. He said the lack of sleep permanently changed him, but… he won his money back. So, if you can learn to stay the game til the sunrise finds you again, you might just win your money back:)

The accompanying video really provides the track with a deeper emotional perspective. Can you tell us about the process of making the video?

Thank you! Chancey June is a brilliant cinematographer in the DC area and we’d been wanting to work with each other for awhile. For this project, she enlisted the equally talented Sandra Camargo for the concept and casting. Sandra put together a great idea to explore the loss of innocence and joy and how one goes about getting their light back. This fit really well with the idea behind the song. It’s the first song on my upcoming debut album Is There Any Love In Your Heart. It’s the start of the journey. You’ve been down deep and seen some shit but come out on the other side. You’re forever transformed. What do you do with that transformation? Is there any love in your heart? The question as yet without answer. Jasmine Cruz, the lead actor, absolutely knocked it out of the park. She conveyed every emotion I could have wanted to convey for this song. She’s almost like a completely different person from the beginning to the end.

Suzannah’s solo debut album, Is There Any Love In Your Heart, is due out November 11. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.